Chartiers-Houston challenges tax assessment of MarkWest facility

July 10, 2014
Katie Roupe/Observer-Reporter The MarkWest Energy plant on Western Avenue in Chartiers Township

Chartiers-Houston School District is challenging the tax assessment of the MarkWest Liberty Midstream Resources gas processing facility, stating the current value is “improper, inequitable, unjust, unfair and unlawful,” according to court records.

The district is arguing that the current fair market value for the 106-acre property at 800 Western Ave., Chartiers Township, is higher than the $1,717,468 market value assessment and the assessed $429,367 value. MarkWest’s total tax bill for 2014 is $65,870, of which the Chartiers-Houston School District’s share is $51,314. Chartiers Township and Washington County, who also receive taxes from the facility, were named as interested parties in court records.

Don Bennett, the business manager for the school district, said the district filed two appeals to two assessments after their attorneys, Peacock, Keller & Ecker, urged them to do so.

“Our attorneys believe there is a higher assessed value,” Bennett said.

The first appeal was filed in November 2013. The MarkWest facility was given a fair market value of $1,565,888 and the assessed value was $391,472, court records show. The most recent appeal was filed July 2 in response to the addition of new buildings on the property, Bennett said. Slight adjustments were made in response to the additions, but Bennett said they still weren’t enough.

The higher value is yet to be determined, Bennett said. MarkWest’s attorney, Jim McCune, said both parties contacted individual appraisers and completed a tour at the facility. He said the appraisers’ reports have not been returned.

“This will be a long process,” he said. “There won’t even be settlement discussion until we have the facts.”

Patrick Grimm, an attorney representing the district, declined to comment and directed a reporter to his colleague, Barb Graham. Graham did not return calls for comment.

Brad Boni, Washington County chief tax assessor, said he’s unsure of the district’s motivation. Boni said the appeals process can take years to sort out in Common Pleas Court, and that the burden is “on each party to provide expert testimony,” for the court. Nonetheless, he’s interested in the outcome.

“I’m interested to see where this ends up myself,” Boni said. “This is a unique site.”

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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